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Dance, death and all their friends
The newest musical act on the scene - Circle of Trust - is out with their debut record called All Night Long and it's not one you can put your trust in. With deathly dull beats and weak and clichéd lyrics, the duo disappoints. Instep lends an ear…

By Maheen Sabeeh


Artist: Circle of Trust

Album: All Night Long (Electronic Dance Music)*

Never miss a beat
A recent billboard caught my attention. With two urban looking boys plastered on it with the words, "Circle of Trust presents All Night Long (Electronic Dance Music)", it made me curious.
With a certain bout of skepticism, I grabbed a copy. I say skepticism because electronic dance is a difficult genre to handle for any act. And for a debut artist from Pakistan, it may be even more difficult. In our two decade old pop music industry, few have tried and even fewer have succeeded. Nazia and Zoheb Hassan remain the one sole exception. Their brand of pop had its foot in electronic dance music. Those records remain classic even today.
Anyhow coming back to the duo of Circle of Trust, which comprises of brothers Sheeraz and Maaz Ahmed, the only verdict one can summon is amusement and disappointment, though the latter is a more accurate description. The name of the band, Circle of Trust, in itself is a sign.
Inside the album inlay, the lead vocalist is described as "Loaded with consummate energy and catchy looks (what are catchy looks?), Maaz Ahmed is the lead vocalist of Circle of Trust. He has a strong punchy voice" - this is borderline narcissism. On the debut album, words like catchy looks and punchy (?) voice are just a downer. Anyhow, let's chalk this up to rookie mistake.
And let's move on to the record at hand.

Night of the dancing flame
A debut album is always the first introduction to possible fans and to the music industry insiders. According to Sheeraz, "The album is influenced from Western electronic trance, house and dance music, a genre that Pakistani music sorely lacks."

Indeed it is true. Such genres are unheard of in mainstream Pakistani music.
Sheeraz and Maaz are ambitious boys. Their album, All Night Long, is filled with 15 tracks, which is a monumental task to take on. 15 songs on one album is a lot of hard work. Sadly, the hard work hasn't played out as well as one hoped. Everything from the videos to the album inlay - which by the way is a must read if you're in the mood to crack up - and the actual record are a sheer disappointment.

The biggest problem with All Night Long is that most of the songs are club oriented. And that could have been a good thing, had it not been for the repetitive and dare I say, cheesy lyrical words and mislaid hoops, if one can call them that. It's too generic to digest. The hypnotism that is often the staple of electronica and house is missing and that is just a killer.

The opening number 'Habibi' has an interesting opening. It sounds very Middle Eastern with perhaps Eastern strings (?) but a few seconds later, all the hope shatters. One suspended beat with words that go: "Tera Tera Tera/Dil Hai Tera Mera/Tera Tera/Dil Hai Mera Tera/Meri Ankhon Mein Hain Sapna Tera". And all the way through that one beat continues. The chorus is perhaps the only redeeming portion with the verse "Yalla Habibi" which is fun to say out loud. As the song progresses, a lone haunting beat appears which is soon replaced with too much noise that reminds one of a Bollywood song.

'Aasman's' opening, it seems has drawn a rather bad inspiration from Faithless's brilliant track 'Insomnia'. It isn't a rip-off but the similarity is there and it doesn't work. Synthesizers, samplers, mixers are all at play with even weaker lyrics. "Aasman Kehta Hai Zameen Say/Chand Kehta Hai Roshni Say/Ishhq Tau Ek Aisi Khata Hai/Jaan Leva Jis Ki Saza Hai". The melody is boring and forgettable.

'Bazi' with keyboards in the background and clanging beats and the wordplay, "Tu He Meray Dil Mein Hai/Tu He Meri Raaton Mein Hain" is like listening to an Indian film song, one of those item songs that is created for shock value and night clubs to boost a film amongst younger audiences.

On 'Zindagi', love is, predictably, in the air but there is no melodic mixture of ambient and trance. Sure, if you love to dance to random sounds that are rushed, this may well be the song for you. Otherwise, skip it, much like the rest of the record.

Some relief comes in the shape of 'Peera' where the upbeat tempo gets replaced with a mellower arrangement. A flute opens the songs and the blueness of this flute alone makes this song worth a listen. Emotional vocals are on the rise in this song which comes as a surprise. It is the most bearable song on this record.

Similar is the case with 'Kahan Tum', a love ballad with a melancholia that is compounded with soft pianos and morbid flute.

'Lajjo' is like a Punjabi song lost in trance. Massive, similar beats thrown on the sound wall and the 'hoya hoya hurrrrrrrrr' doesn't help either. Its one of those songs that attempts too much at the same time.

'Pyar' takes a cue from DJ Tiesto and attempts a trippy beat but loses touch soon where the sound becomes redundant. 'Mahiya' has a shockingly weak melody and the lyrics are abysmal. "Mahiya/Madhosh Dil Ashna Mahiya/Jan Mahiya/Tu Ishq Ki Inteha Mahiya".

An element of rock and some funky bass lines come on 'Hum' with its optimistic mood where the spirit of not giving up shines out. The vocals here are weak but it's a nice change from the lovelorn lyricism. It's a fast song but the ambient mixes decently with a recurring riff.

'Mahjabeen' is groovy in the first few seconds but as soon as the tune moves forward, clichés like "Tu jalpari/Tu hai meri/Tera Deewana' ruin the mood. Musically it's deathly dull with the thunk thunk sound.

Live and learn
Surely, the boys have put in an effort. They are trying to cater to the youth with a sound that is rare. But unfortunately, it is too weak and redundant an album to give a second glance to. Electronic dance is too strong a term to use. Traces of this one word can be felt in genres like pop, rap, hip-hop and RnB. From Madonna to Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Simon and Garfunkel, the influences have always existed.
Since this album is using the West as an inspiration point: here are a few facts. Rihanna's 'Disturbia', Bob Sinclaire's 'World Hold On', Junkie XL's 'Today' and Keane's 'Spiralling' are tunes that have used electronic dance to create songs that make one want to go to a club just for the sheer joy of their sound.

Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed, Armin van Buuren, and Faithless among many others are masters of this trick. They play with the genres of house, trance, dance and electronica with such magnificence that it is hypnotizing. Because in the end, it is just a sound. A sound that if powerful enough can drown out the outside world.

Right here at home, the element of electronic has been played out magnificently by Rushk on their debut album Sawal and more recently by Mole on their record, We're Always Home. Traces of electronic dance combined found its way on Ali Zafar's 'Rangeen' number. Hashim aka Hash delivered two superlative electronica-dance driven numbers like 'Load The Cannon' and 'My Moment'.

There have been other acts who have attempted to do the same. Omer Inayat tried it with Be The One and he managed a decent even if somewhat patchy record. Ali Haider tackled the same with his album Jadu but that too failed to make a major mark.

In the end, All Night Long fails to make a mark because the vocals are forgettable, lyrical prowess is even weaker and the beats are neither dexterous nor are they groovy. There is no tripped-out magic that one hoped for. The production is clear but since most songs sound the same, it doesn't come as a surprise.
In the end, All Night Long loses points because there is no cutting edge anything here.

*****Get it NOW!
****Just get it
***Maybe maybe not
**Just download the best song
*Forget that this was mad